Neal talks still on the backburner for now
24 year old James Neal has emerged as the one of the premier goal scorers in the NHL, just at the perfect time as Neal is a restricted free agent at seasons end. With Neal emerging as a 5+ millionÃ‚Â a yearÃ‚Â player, there is a sense around the Penguins that they need and should try to lock up Neal right now. The Penguins though continue to take a cautious approach.
Sources directly involved in the negotiations confirm this morning that the Penguins have yet to establish any kind of timetable for talks with Neal's reps Pat Morris (lead negotiator) and Don Meehan of Newport Sports, and as we enter the second half of the season, no new discussions have taken place since GM Ray Shero reached out to Neal's camp in late October indicating that the team is prepared to take care of Neal at the right time.
Neal ranks 4th in the NHL with 21 goal and his 36 points are second on the team.
Sources indicate that the Penguins have still not decided whether they will engage in negotiations during the season with Neal. The CBA, and the team not having a good idea yet of what the cap might be in 2012-2013, could be factors.
Pittsburgh has around $54 million committed to salaries in 2012-2013.
Repping one of the top RFA's is not a new thing for Morris and Meehan who are widely regarded as two of the best agents in the business and recent history suggest that negotiations with Neal will be a tough and long negotiation. Neal in fact is no stranger to holding out for a deal until training camp.
Some recent examples of prolonged negotiations for top RFA's repped by Newport sports agency.
-- Negotiations between Ducks GM Bob Murray and Meehan went all the way until September 2010 when Bobby Ryan, 23 at the time, finally agreed to a five year - $25.5 million contract on September 14, 2010..
--- Negotiations between the Kings and star defenseman Drew Doughty, an restricted free agent at the time, was another prolonged negotiation between the Kings and Doughty's reps at Newport Sports. After holding out of training camp, Doughty and the Kings reached a $56 million deal over eight years on September 29, 2011.
--- Nashville's Patric Hornqvist, another Newport client who was a restricted free agent in summer of 2010, didn't reach a three-year, $9.25 million contract until August 24, 2010.